The Differences Between Bowen Therapy & Massage

As a Bowen Therapy Practitioner, few people know about or understand what Bowen Therapy is. Although, it is starting to become more known, there needs to be  a lot more education and awareness (both to other health practitioners and the public) before it becomes well known like remedial massage, acupuncture, and other health care modalities.

When I’m asked what I do for work, if I answer with ”I am a remedial massage therapist” the conversation keeps flowing. However, if I say “I’m a Bowen Therapist,” I will 90% of the time get a response, “what is that?”

Whilst Bowen Therapy and Massage have similarities such as promoting relaxation, reducing stress, muscular tension/ stiffness / pain, reducing headaches, improving mobility and circulation they also have some key differences.


Bowen Therapy

  • Bowen Therapy (Bowtech Bowen) sessions comprise of a series of gentle movements over soft tissue – muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia. Between each set of move, the practitioner pauses for a couple of minutes for the client’s body to respond (this is when a client may feel sensations e.g. warmth, coolness, tingling however, it is very individual). Once the body has responded, the next moves are done.
  • Bowen Therapy addresses the entire body, rather than focusing on a single complaint.
  • It is very gentle, subtle and calming, making it a great treatment for all ages including babies and elderly. It requires minimal pressure and minimal intervention with no vigorous manipulation.
  • Bowen Therapy assists with emotional issues such as anxiety, hormonal issues such as menopause and digestive issues such as constipation, plus more.
  • No oil is used in a Bowen Therapy session, and light clothing may be worn.
  • Treatment lasts between 45-60 mins
  • There are very few contraindications with Bowen Therapy



  • Massage is a very hands on treatment.
  • There are different styles of massage
  • Depending on a clients presentation, the massage will focus on a single complaint or address the entire body with a full body massage.
  • The pressure is suited to the client
  • Oils are used in treatment.
  • A client can choose the length of treatment.


Both Bowen Therapy and Massage are fantastic treatments and can play a vital role in your physical and mental wellbeing.

Six ways to Improve your IBS Symptoms

gut health

As many as 1 in 5 Australian’s will at one stage in their life suffer from IBS and did you know it is more prevalent in women!

There can be many symptoms from abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, urgency and changed bowel habits. There are 3 types of IBS, you can have IBC-C (constipation), IBS-D (diarrhoea) and IBS-M (both constipation and diarrhoea).


What are some key drivers of IBS?

Stress – have you ever felt ‘butterflies in your stomach’ or felt nervous before speaking in public or worried there are no toilets close by and that it has sent you searching for the loo? That is due to your mind-gut connection or gut-brain axis. This bidirectional link is between your central nervous system (CNS), your enteric nervous system (ENS), hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and let’s not forget your gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome sends signals through your vagus nerve (the longest nerve in the body connecting your brain to your gut) to your brain and vice versa. It has been shown that individuals with higher stress are more likely to experience IBS from a dysregulated gut-brain axis.

Gut bacteria disruption – dysbiosis (an imbalance in the types and levels of gut bacteria) as well as small intestinal bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) are very common in IBS patients. These can lead to systemic inflammation, immune activation, altering the intestinal barrier function, changing your gut bacteria. These bad bugs can over ferment fibre resulting in pain and excessive gas. This is due to the reduction of beneficial bacteria that help breakdown fibre and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which help to reduce inflammation.

Gut Inflammation – inflammation of the gut barrier can increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and lead to immune activation. This inflammation on the gut lining can increase pain sensitivity (abdominal pain) and slow or accelerate your gut motility.

Post-Infection –a previous gastric infection can increase the risk IBS. Infections such as Salmonella may increase intestinal inflammation, leading to an increase in leaky gut and changing the gut bacteria.

Intolerance to FODMAP’s – FODMAP (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) are types of fibre that gut bacteria ferment naturally and help to support a healthy gut environment by feeding beneficial bacteria. What happens to people with IBS is the overgrowth of bad bacteria over-ferment the FODMAP containing foods leading to pain and flatulence. Limiting high FODMAP foods, doing the re-introduction stage and identifying your food triggers with the support of a naturopath or nutritionist can help alleviate IBS symptoms. This does not work for all IBS patients and is only a short-term strategy while your practitioner works with you to holistically treat the underlying causes of your IBS.


What actions can you take to help your IBS symptoms?
  1. Reduce stress –

By trying to identify triggers and make sure you are getting quality sleep. Keep a journal to note how your feelings may trigger you to run to the toilet or give you that butterfly feeling.

Look at toning your vagus nerve, some strategies include – having cold showers, humming or chanting, gargling, yoga, meditation. Regular exercise is also important to reduce the physical symptoms of stress.

  1. Low FODMAP diet –

work with a health care practitioner to see if a low FODMAP diet will help you and your IBS symptoms. This is not a long-term approach, as it can have a negative impact of your microbiome when cutting out complete food groups. Your practitioner will work with your underlying causes and improve your gut health and therefore be able to re-introduce the FODMAP maps that may be an issue for you.

  1. Reduce Inflammation –

Through diet, eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, oily small wild caught fish, drinking plenty of water, avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine intake.

  1. Remove dysbiosis (bad bugs) –

Your practitioner can do stool analysis through different test to work out what bacteria you have and what are they doing, that way they can work out the best plan of attack!

  1. Repopulate your gut with good bacteria

Probiotics have been shown to be very effective in reducing symptoms if IBS.

  1. plantarum 299v is a specific probiotic strain with an anti-inflammatory action and has been shown to reduce abdominal pain, frequency, flatulence, bloating and diarrhoea. In one clinical study, 221 IBS patients taking 10 billion colony forming units (CFU) had a reduction in these symptoms after 4 weeks.

It is important to take a strain specific probiotic and not just any one off the shelf, and when you work with a practitioner, they will determine the right probiotic for you as well as dosage and duration.

  1. Feed your good bacteria –

Prebiotics help to feed your good gut bugs and help them to thrive. Your microbes in your gut help to digest fibre and by feeding them certain gut loving fibre foods this will support them to grow and produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) which help to reduce inflammation.

Some prebiotic foods to include in your diet are Kiwifruit, bananas, cabbage, rhubarb, fennel, oats, spelt pasta, and lentils.

Partially hydrolysed guar gum (PHGG) is a prebiotic and helps to increase SCFA, soften stools and reduce colonic transit time, therefore it can be beneficial for patients with constipation associated IBS.


If you are someone who suffers from IBS or are experiencing these symptoms, then I would suggest you work with an accredited natural health care practitioner today. So, you can start to take action, be in control and not feel trapped by your IBS!

If you want to hear more about IBS, then register for this free webinar I am running for Natural Medicine Week “Are you Feeling Trapped by your IBS?” on Wednesday 25th May at 7:30.

Overbreathing: A recipe for unwellness

Ever find yourself wanting to strangle your partner for snoring? Do you feel like you’re chest breathing when you’re anxious? Do you experience sleep apnoea or sinusitis? Are you the deep loud breather in your yoga class? Do you have a child who suffers from asthma or a constantly blocked nose? Is sighing a regular response to your daily activity? These are all signs that dysfunctional breathing has settled in.

90% of humans are dysfunctional breathers and therefore create a carbon dioxide deficit or habit of overbreathing.

Luckily for us, science has come along to confirm the benefits of yet another yoga technique: when it comes to longevity and wellbeing, actually breathing less, not more, is proving to be more beneficial.

For those of you who haven’t hit the yoga mat yet, Pranayama is one of the 8 limbs of yoga that focuses on the cessation (or slowing down/directing flow of) our breathing. I know when I have done a great yoga practice, because my breathing almost ceases to exist and slows down to a rate of about 5 breaths per minute (it’s normally about 8–12 breaths per minute). It brings a profound state of calm to my mind and leaves me feeling so much less ‘needy’.

I recently attended a course with Canberra’s own breathing educator Tess Graham of According to studies, we have developed bad breathing habits due to periods of high stress levels, poor posture, mouth breathing, poor nutrition, chronic coughing, overheating and the list goes on. The good news is it’s fairly easy to correct with more awareness and practice.


What is normal breathing?

  • Breathe through your nose not your mouth if comfortable (day and night).
  • Have an upright posture to give the diaphragm space to soften and open. The diaphragm under ribs (not belly) has a small movement.
  • Breathe silently in a regular and smooth rhythm.
  • Breaths are soft and gentle, and only deep under strong exertion.

Making small regular changes during the day will set you up for good breathing habits at night and may save your marriage! And by simply retraining yourself to breathe ‘normally’ you will be able to put yourself back to sleep when you wake up at 2 am – what a revelation! You can also reduce muscular tension and stimulate the release of natural antihistamine in spring. It also helps to:

  • reduce sinus congestion
  • avoid snoring
  • cure restless leg syndrome
  • avoid ADHD and sleep apnoea
  • dilate your arteries.


Deep yogic breaths: not so yogic after all!

For years, modern yoga has taught us to take deep breaths and blow off our CO2. But has modern yoga forgotten to relate back to traditional texts?

So long as the (breathing) air stays in the body, it is called life. Death consists of passing out of the (breathing) air. It is therefore necessary to retrain the breath. Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Original yoga manuscripts (Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Gheranda Samhita and the Shiva Samhita) do not have any referrals to ‘deep breathing’. They suggest the opposite: to restrain, keep in, calm and hold the breath. Yet many modern yoga texts claim deep breathing, particularly deep exhalations, expel toxins like CO2.

As we move through asanas (yoga postures), and we feel our metabolism demand increase, it makes sense to allow the deeper breath to naturally arise, and let it naturally quieten as a response. It also produces a relaxation response. Synchronising movement and breath brings deeper levels of awareness to our ability to observe the mind during asanas or postures.

You may have heard of many having reversed asthma with the Butekyo breathing technique. Doctor and physiologist Dr Buteyko focused on Hatha yoga and the main Hatha yoga breathing exercise, Pranayama, particularly promoting breathing cessation (under supervision).

Yoga pose is a steady and comfortable position. Yoga pose is mastered by relaxation of effort, lessening the tendency for restless breathing, and promoting an identification of oneself as living within the infinite breath of life. The sage Patanjali


CO2 eliminates mental chatter and promotes easier meditation and mindfulness.

Breathing retraining has a strong effect on reducing mental chatter, as well as anxiety levels. Most meditation and mindfulness techniques naturally lead to slower and easier breathing. And remarkably, CO2 is a natural muscle relaxant. Voila!

If you would like help to retrain your breathing, book in for an initial Reflexology Health Insight session where I will check your breathing patterns.


50 Small Ways to Transform your Hormonal Health

Woman in field of lavender
These are practical actionable’s & mindset shifts. Think of this like a checklist for the year, or health bingo! Choose one small thing per or week, without trying to do-it-all, for sustainability. It’s the small things that in combination, can and will make a massive difference in your health trajectory.
  1. Drink more water. It seems simple, but for most women whom I work with, this is a first step. Ensure to be drinking 1.5-2 litres of water per day. If you aren’t hitting that goal, this is your reminder to slowly increase your water intake.
  2. Eat slowly, chew your food. Do you really, truly chew your food? Or, are you eating in a rushed state? Slow down. Take your time and chew each mouthful to optimise digestion and improve your gut health.
  3. Focus on abundance not scarcity. When it comes to eating, focus on nourishment and getting as many good whole real foods in that you can, as opposed to a focus on restriction; leading to a scarcity mindset.
  4. Stop restricting food groups unless you have an intolerance. Cutting out major food groups is not ideal and is not sustainable. Balance and everything in moderation.
  5. Try drinking lemon water in the morning to help the liver cleanse itself and kickstart digestion.
  6. Remove guilt when it comes to eating or missing a workout. I once had a client label this the ‘Fuck-it mentality’. I encourage you to adopt this mentality as the guilt itself inside is worse than missing that workout or the treat that you ate.
  7. Look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I love you’, just do it, trust me.
  8. Limit your screen time by using tools on your mobile phone. I personally use all of the tools available for the benefit of my own mental health.
  9. Add a greens & reds powder into your daily routine to get extra nutrients in with a quality organic food-based supplement.
  10. Throw out all of your old supplements & simplify your supplement regime to 1-2 things. Just because it’s in your cupboard, doesn’t mean it has to go into your body. Taking too many supplements isn’t ideal, speak to a professional about what you actually need.
  11. Turn off social media and email notifications on your phone, set a specific time to check them, you could even start a brand new email account with no spam or sales emails.
  12. Say no to things or events that you really don’t want to do or go to, to things that don’t serve your nature. Saying no is more authentic than an untrue yes.
  13. Start drinking green smoothies. Simply blend 1/2 a banana or an apple, organic dark leafy greens, coconut or filtered water, zucchini or cucumber together and voila, a nourishing green smoothie!
  14. Make your bed each morning. If you don’t already, this one small simple thing will have a big impact on your bedroom environment and how you feel.
  15. Stop drinking alcohol for a month. I recommend reading Quit like a Woman by Holly Whitaker if you’re curious about pausing drinking in a society in which social alcoholism is so deeply ingrained.
  16. Remove all accounts from your social media platforms that don’t serve you and replace them with ones who inspire you. After all, you are the sum of who you surround yourself with, even digitally.
  17. Cut your coffee intake down to 1 per day with food. Too much caffeine is not ideal for your female hormones, but one per day with food is ok.
  18. Season and roast a big tray of vegetables for the week ahead and have them in lunches, just add greens, grains and a form of protein.
  19. Eat dinner at the table, not on the couch. If you’ve fallen into habits, try migrating back to the table at dinner time so that you can focus on what you’re eating.
  20. Turn off the TV and your phone for no screen time an hour before bed. This will help you to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
  21. Develop a simple morning routine. 1-2 special little grounding things that you can do to set your day up each morning.
  22. Develop a simple night time routine. 1-2 little special restful things that you can do to support your body to wind down.
  23. Make big servings of soups, curries or stews and freeze the leftovers for lazy nights. Your future self will thank your past self!
  24. Put your clothes away to remove chaos. If you are a clothes-all-over-the-floor kind of person, spend an hour putting them away and maintain the tidiness.
  25. Present your meals in an aesthetically pleasing way, because you deserve the restaurant quality presentation and the care factor from yourself.
  26. Cry. Have a really good cry, whenever you can or need to, and feel the release. No one gets a medal for suppressing their tears.
  27. Reassess your diet and eating habits, you don’t have to stick to a way of eating that doesn’t work for you. I you have committed to a new way of eating, you can quit and reassess this at any time.
  28. Meditate, do this by walking, sitting down or lying down in silence and stilling the mind for 5 minutes.
  29. If you haven’t done so in a couple of years, go for a blood health check with your general practitioner to see where your nutrient levels are sitting, especially things like iron & vitamin D.
  30. Have a raw green side salad with lunch or dinner like rocket leaves dressed with EVOO & balsamic vinegar. This will support digestion and liver detoxification.
  31. Start a journal, write anything, let it be messy and unkempt, and lean into that. Try it and see what comes out when you put pen to paper.
  32. Shop at the local markets to get your hands on seasonal produce. This will ensure that your food is fresh and nutrient dense.
  33. Try new types of exercise or movement until you find something or even better, a community that you absolutely love. Invest in that, it’s priceless.
  34. Invest in personal development when it comes to mental, financial, or hormonal literacy. The most empowering thing that you can do is to invest in your own growth journey.
  35. Go outside for a walk in nature and get 20-30 minutes of sun per day to increase your vitamin D levels by synthesising the nutrient from the sun.
  36. Write a dot point inventory of everything good in your life, big and small, to foster an undeniable feeling of gratitude.
  37. Get creative, do something that the child in you loves like painting or making clay or boogie boarding in the ocean.
  38. Cook a pot of bone broth and use it as a base for your soups & stews to add nutrient density to your meals.
  39. Do something that is absolutely pointless, like running into the rain.
  40. Smile. Do it right now and see how it makes you feel.
  41. Make time to eat breakfast, seriously. It is the most Important meal of the day.
  42. Read a book, then another, then another. When self improvement is too much, lose yourself in a fantasy novel.
  43. Order takeaway when you just can not cook! I am giving you permission to order takeaway because a big part of holistic health is taking it easy on yourself.
  44. Do something random and kind for someone else. A random act of kindness.
  45. Focus on 3 nutrient dense main meals per day and try to cut out the snacking to support healthy blood sugar regulation and digestion.
  46. Put on a really good song and just dance alone, like no one is watching.
  47. Light a candle or use a warm light at night and stare at the blue sky in the morning to support your circadian rhythm. These simple practices active Serotonin (your wake hormone) and Melatonin (your sleep hormone).
  48. Listen to an inspiring podcast each week. Check out Chloe’s Clinic!
  49. Get professional help when you need it, this is easier said than done but there are so many people in this world that are here to support you.
  50. Work with me! There are several different capacities in which we can work together towards your thriving health. Learn more here.
I hope you are inspired to make small changes towards the bigger picture. It’s the little things in life!

Feeling Overwhelmed, Stressed or Burnt-out

Often, we start the week thinking ‘I’m going to make a real effort to get healthy this week’? Then life throws you a couple of curve balls, you end up working late, there’s a social engagement or two and before you know it, you’re back to the start of a new week.

This can cause one to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or even burnt-out. It’s no wonder after all the things that have been happening in the world over the last few years, particularly the global pandemic. Prior to 2020, many of my patients were suffering from overwhelm, stressed out from either work and/or balancing family life. Put these things altogether, it’s no wonder that many were heading down the road to burn-out.

Why is this become the norm?

Unfortunately, today’s fast-paced modern lifestyle doesn’t always allow us to achieve balance and more importantly to prioritise the things we need to do to keep us healthy. Too often, one reaches for quick and easy takeaway or comfort foods and fails to get around to doing regular exercise.

Sometimes we focus too heavily on the things we need to cut out from our diets and lifestyles in order to be healthy when what we really need are small, simple changes that we can implement at a pace our lifestyle and our body can adapt to without having to go through a phase of shock or restriction.

Also, when we have a health problem, we often look for a single cause, but in the majority of cases it is a combination of multiple factors that occur during our lifetime that result in dis-ease in our body. Personally, I believe that one of the main causes of disease and the epidemic of autoimmune conditions is our disconnection with nature and our modern hectic lifestyles.

I totally get it!


Prior to becoming a naturopath, I too was caught up in a hectic lifestyle. It was through my own health crisis whilst working overseas in banking in Tokyo, Japan that I realised there was more to life than money and that Western medicine was not the answer to a long healthy life.

Taking control doesn’t have to be hard!

Unfortunately, when most of us hear the term wellness, we assume that it’s something beyond our reach. Or perhaps we think that wellness is not us — not everyday people just working the daily grind and living busy lives.

Wellness is nothing more than small daily choices that lead up to lifelong, very big changes — that’s it.

Anyone can achieve wellness whether that means you’re a stay at home parent or a full-time working adult, maybe even juggling two jobs just to get by. You don’t have to have a lot of money, time, or even kitchen skills because all of us have access to wellness if we choose to.

Don’t know where to start?

Not knowing where to start is the #1 reason people don’t take their health and wellness seriously, which is why I’ve created a simple but detailed 9-step process, that can help you to achieve wellness in your life. If followed, then you will be well on your way to a healthier and happier YOU.

This process is based on the “Be Blessed” acronym which will encourage you to look at your life and guides you to implement ways in which you can improve your overall health and vitality. I came up with this based on the realisation that although most of us are born with good health MOST of us also take it for granted. I encourage you to be one of those who values the importance of their health. The steps are:

  • B Breathe
  • E Eat Well


  • B Be in the Moment
  • L Love Yourself & Others
  • E Exercise
  • S Stress Less, Sleep More
  • S Supplements
  • E Earthing & Environment
  • D Drink Water/Detox

The Be Blessed blueprint dives deeper into each of these steps, they are simple, achievable for everyone, affordable, and absolutely life-altering when all combined.

Don’t put it off any longer, begin your journey back to improved health. It is time for you to take back control of your health and well-being so you can make your body, mind and soul create the best version of you.

If you are seeking to improve your health, I would encourage you to learn more about each of the 9 simple steps – see details on my website.

“Remember – No one becomes healthy by wishing, making excuses,

or deeming themselves unworthy.”


Gut Health and The Microbiome

gut health

What is gut health?

Whilst ‘gut health’ is not clearly defined in scientific literature, the term has become an increasingly popular concept in modern medicine and the food industry. Gut health is undoubtedly complex encompassing both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts. It is core to overall health and involves five major criterion:

  1. Optimal digestion: normal nutritional status/absorption of food, regular and consistent bowels, and limited bloating/flatulence
  2. Absence of gastrointestinal (GI) illness: no reflux, inflammation, enzyme deficiencies, carbohydrate intolerances, IBD/coeliac, and colorectal/other GI cancers
  3. Stable, resilient, and diverse microbiome: no bacterial overgrowth, normal composition of commensal bacteria, no infections, or antibiotic-associated complications
  4. Systemic health and immune response: normal gut barrier function and immune response/tolerance
  5. Overall well-being: normal quality of life, balanced gut-brain function, and positive gut feeling


What is the microbiome?

Do you ever feel alone? Well don’t, because your gut microbiome (also termed microbiota) is home to hundreds of microbial cells (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that happily coexist in your small and large intestines. These ‘bugs’ are uniquely diverse, have their own DNA, and are susceptible to change depending on one’s diet, environment, medication intake, and more.

The gut microbiome starts evolving from birth with rapid changes taking place in the first two to three years of life. These early changes are predominantly dependent on two things:

  1. Source of dietary intake – breastfeeding/bottle feeding/food
  2. Environmental exposure (including birth delivery)

After three years the infant microbiome becomes the blueprint of the adult microbiome.

Over recent years the gut microbiome has become a hot topic of research, mostly due to the accruing links to a plethora of health conditions. The microbiome can harbor both beneficial and harmful (at varying levels) microbes. Microbes have the ability to use what you consume (food) as a source of fuel and in turn produce certain metabolites such as short chain fatty acids, gases, and vitamins. Short chain fatty acids such as butyrate, propionate, and acetate have particularly key roles in influencing various body systems for e.g., immune, nervous, and cardiovascular.


What is a healthy microbiome?

Gut microbiome exploration is an ongoing endeavour. Thus far we only have gained a drop of knowledge when it comes to the sea of microbes within the human gut. What constitutes a healthy microbiome is subjective. One person’s considered ‘healthy’ microbiome may not be healthy for another person. A collective understanding among researchers is that ‘good’ microbes need a good amount of fibre as a fuel source. Increased dietary fibre intake has been long-established as an integral nutrient/ingredient with various health benefits. Hence, it comes to no surprise that our ‘bugs’ love fibre too. Low fibre diets have been linked with an altered gut microbiome composition including a reduction in beneficial bacteria and an increase in the production of not so beneficial metabolites.


How do we test the microbiome?

Thanks to rapid advances in microbiome testing technology, testing the microbiome has not only become affordable but also easily accessible. Most companies supply at-home non-invasive testing kits that require a small amount of faecal load. Microbiome testing involves elevated levels of DNA sequencing technology. Your poo has quite the potential; it can tell you a lot about your inner workings, i.e., how your gut microbes may behave, what they love to eat, and ultimately what they can produce. Shotgun metagenomics is top tier when it comes to microbiome analysis followed by meta-transcriptomics and metabolomics:

  • Shotgun metagenomics sequencing: sampling all microbe genes (DNA) (whole-genome) and their potential (species level) – who is there and what they can do
  • Meta-transcriptomic sequencing: sampling of microbes and their functional profile – which genes are collectively expressed under different conditions (i.e., conditions that are present within the host at time of testing) and what they do
  • Metabolomic sequencing: sampling of microbes at specific regions (genus level – e.g., 16s) under different conditions (i.e., conditions present at the time of testing) and their by-products – does not reveal which bacteria produced them, nevertheless a great method of discovering new metabolites

Whilst these tests are not diagnostic per se, they do supply great insight into the community of microbes that exist within you. Each approach in its singular sense provides a substantial amount of information, and a significantly more comprehensive picture when combined. Combined testing is not readily available yet, but it is something to be pursued from both a clinical and research lens.



Bischoff, S. (2011). ‘Gut health’: a new objective in medicine. BMC Med, 9:24. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-9-24

Cronin, P., Joyce, S., O’Toole, P., & O’Connor, E. (2021). Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients, 13, 1655. doi: 10.3390/nu13051655

The Power of Whole Food Supplements

A large proportion of the Australian population take nutrient supplements with research showing 47% of women and 34% of men reporting that they regularly consume supplements. Supplementation use varies with different populations with the United States, United Kingdom and Denmark being the highest in supplement use, reported at between 35 and 60% of adults. 

There has been much debate over whether synthetic nutrients provide the same benefits as a natural nutrient such as those that are found in whole foods. The recent rise in the interest of supplements that may help to reverse or reduce the risk of disease has led scientists to investigate wholefood supplements and their potential ability to be absorbed better than traditional vitamin and mineral supplements (6).


What is meant by “whole food” supplements?

Nutrients (vitamins and minerals) can either come from natural sources or they can be synthesised. Synthetic nutrients are made in a laboratory setting or industrial process and natural nutrients are those found organically in whole foods.

Whole food supplements are typically made with plants that have been concentrated or dehydrated such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, roots, and legumes. 

The important fact to remember about whole food supplements is that they contain “whole” and complex structures that are organically found in foods. This means you are not only consuming a particular vitamin or mineral but also the enzymes, co-enzymes, trace elements and antioxidants that are naturally found together in that plant.

The production method of synthetic nutrients is very different to the way plants and animals naturally create them. This means that even though they may have a similar structure, the body can react differently when ingesting synthetic nutrients. At present, it is still a little unclear how well the body absorbs and uses synthetic nutrients. Some may be more readily absorbed and used than others (7). 

Synthetic versus whole foods- what the research says

Synthetically made nutrients are often produced the way pharmaceuticals are. If there is not enough of the natural enzymes or cofactors in the end-product then the body might not be able to absorb and use the nutrients in that supplement. When we eat real food, we are not eating synthetically made, single nutrients, but instead we ingest an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and co-factors that allow for optimal use by the body.

Recent studies have shown that the natural nutritional state of a plant is believed to be far superior to a synthetic supplement. Evidence is now showing that the best nutrition comes from whole foods; however, when nutritional supplementation is required then whole food nutritional supplements offer a more reliable delivery of nutrients (5). 

In 2014, a review investigated current clinical trials that had compared whole tomatoes with a single nutrient lycopene supplement (lycopene is a powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes) and how each improved the risk factors of people suffering with cardiovascular disease. The research showed that the best approach to improving cardiovascular health should firstly be to consume whole tomato-based foods as they provided more beneficial results than using only lycopene supplementation in this study (1). 

In 2011, researchers set out to compare the bioactivity of broccoli and broccoli containing supplements, specifically in their potential to reduce various forms of cancer. The study used a broccoli supplement that didn’t contain all the enzymes that broccoli in its natural state contains. The study focused on some specific plant chemicals that broccoli contains and found that broccoli as a whole food contained significantly higher levels of these important immune boosting plant chemicals that may help in the prevention of cancer (2). 

Thus, research so far tends to promote whole food sourced products as a more efficient way to deliver health enhancing nutrients to the body.

Choosing the right supplement for you

Choosing high quality supplements can be challenging, especially since there is an abundance of options and that many multivitamin supplements contain chemical preservatives and fillers. Not all supplements are equal and whole food supplements are proving to have a more beneficial therapeutic effect. This is because while synthetically based supplements are made to mimic the same activity of natural nutrients, the body may not be able to absorb or use them in the same way as whole food based, natural supplements (3, 4.)

In exceptional whole food supplements, great care is taken to make sure that the whole foods used in the product are organically grown, are as minimally process as possible, produced at low temperatures (proteins in foods are denatured by high heat levels) and contain the naturally occurring co-nutrients that support maximum absorption, disease prevention and optimal long-term health (5).


1. Burton-Freeman BM & Sesso HD, (2014). Whole Food versus Supplement: Comparing the Clinical Evidence of Tomato Intake and Lycopene Supplementation on Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Advances in Nutrition;5;5,457–485.
2. Clarke J, (2011). Comparison of the response to broccoli sprouts or broccoli supplement consumption in human subjects. The FASEB Journal;25; S1, 234.7.
3. Nutri-Con: The Truth About Vitamins & Supplements. (2006). Retrieved from
4. Liu, R. H. (2003). Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 78(3), 517S-520S. doi:10.1093/ajcn/78.3.
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Demystifying Calories

And just like that, the Easter holiday period is behind us. Much like other holidays and special occasions, we tend to find ourselves overindulging. The world still turns even after eating Easter eggs, birthday cake, or having one too many sugary drinks. Yet many still struggle to reconcile indulging with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As is the case with almost every nutrition related question, the answer lies in balance.
Counting calories is not for everyone, but for many it can be empowering. Much like when creating a financial budget, it can force us to take stock. For this reason I have put this blog together to shed some light on calories.

What is a calorie?
If you are unsure what a calorie is, you are not alone. When we speak about calories we usually mean a kilo-calorie or ‘Kcal’ if you read your food labels. These terms are often used interchangeably. Don’t be confused; they usually mean the same thing. A calorie is a unit of energy. To be precise it is the amount of energy required to heat up one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius. Excess calories are stored in the body. For the purposes of simplicity, I will refer to kilo-calories as calories.

How many calories should I have in a day?
It should be simple. If we are burning more calories than we ingest, we should be in a caloric deficit, and lose weight. In actuality, this is where it gets confusing. There are a large number of variables here to work out how many calories we require. Firstly we need to work out our Basal Metabolic Rate. This will tell us how many calories are required to perform all the functions needed to live. Such as breathing, pumping our heart, regulating our temperature etc.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
A number of BMR calculators or charts can be found online to help crunch the numbers for you. As an example, for a male who weighs 83kg and is 177cm tall their BMR would be: 1864 calories a day.

The next step is to work out Total Daily Energy Expenditure. This is a more relevant measurement because it takes into consideration physical activity. This can also be worked out online or manually. Commonly people simply multiply their BMR by 1.2 – 1.5 depending on their level of physical activity. If we used the above example of 1864 calories and multiplied by the middle rating of 1.35 we would get: 2516 calories per day.

This means an 83kg male who is moderately active should aim below 2516 calories a day to lose weight, and above this figure to gain weight.

In recent years, wearables such as Fitbits and Apple watches can also assist with these calculations.

I don’t see Kcal on food labels only kJ?
kJ refers to a Kilojoule. This is another unit of energy. To convert a kilojoule to a calorie you simply divide the number by 4.2. This will give you a rough conversion.
e.g. 1 x 330ml can of soft drink has 594 Kilojoules which works out to 141 calories.

How many calories are there in the food we eat?
Calories can be derived from 4 different sources:

Fat: 1 gram = 9 calories
Protein: 1 gram = 4 calories
Carbohydrates: 1 gram = 4 calories
Alcohol: 1 gram = 7 calories

Does counting calories work for weight loss/gain?
When used in isolation, and without support, it usually does not. Here are three reasons why:

1. All calories are not created equally. We need certain levels of fat, protein, and carbohydrates to lose/gain weight and be healthy. Counting calories usually does not consider macro-nutrient needs. 500 calories from a piece of fried chicken is different to eating 500 calories from grilled chicken, a garden salad and a generous serving of quinoa. This is not to mention the differences in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other goodies our body needs to stay healthy.

2. Counting calories is difficult when you did not cook the meal yourself. This can take some of the fun out of going out to dinner or socialising. Although, once done for awhile, one can get quite proficient at estimating. The key is not to lose sleep trying to be pedantic about it. Again, apps, website, and wearable technology can also assist with calculations making the task a little more manageable.

3. Lack of food variety. The trap many fall into when counting calories is to eat the same foods over and over again. Once calories are counted for a certain meal, it can be tempting to eat the same thing often. Cooking in bulk, and portioning out exactly the same thing for days. This can bring some short term assistance to meeting goals, but can lead to nutritional deficiencies, boredom, and even resentment.

If counting calories does not work, why should I be pay any attention to it?
Counting calories, or at least being aware of them, can be used as a tool. In Australia today, caloric information can be found in almost everything we consume. There is no ‘silver bullet’ to health, but with a number of tools, we can be empowered to make good food choices. This helps us to reach our goals, and plan social gatherings with confidence and without guilt.

Are you Hydrated?

What would you say if I told you that dehydration is the underlying cause of many chronic diseases?

In his book “your body’s many cries for water”, Dr. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. talks about how his research into the role of water in our body, and how dehydration can lead to many health complications.

There are two terms used for the roles of water in our body; “bound water”, which is water that is involved in chemical reactions, or activities for normal functioning; and “free water”, which is water the body requires for any new/extra functions; such as digestion, sweating, etc.

Do you feel tired without having done a good day’s work? Do you wake up first thing in the morning and don’t feel like getting out of bed? Feeling flushed and irritable? Anxious? Dejected? Depressed? Heavy head? Cravings? These are all signs of dehydration.

Dehydration can cause mineral deficiencies, amino acid deficiencies, and an acidic pH level.

Morning sickness in pregnancy is also a sign of dehydration. Increased water intake in early pregnancy can reduce morning sickness, fluid retention, and the infants grow much better in the intrauterine phase.

Cholesterol is also linked to dehydration. If you do not have sufficient “free water” for digestion, the gastro-intestinal tract will take water from the circulation, and the circulatory system will then replace that water with water from organs and tissue of the body; there is barely enough water to break down the food for absorption. More water is required to filter through the liver, and more is lost in the lungs via respiration. By the time your blood reaches the left side of your heart, it is so acidic that it burns the arteries, causing abrasions and tears. This is where cholesterol comes in; it covers the tears, in order to stop blood secreting through them, and allow it to heal.

Not only is it important to drink enough water daily, but it is also important to correct hydration issues within the body.

The body will dehydrate an area of the body for a number of reasons; to weaken nerve signals and make chronic pain easier to deal with, or to suppress a physical/emotional trauma that the mind/body cannot find a way to overcome. So, whilst you may drink enough water daily, it may not be absorbing into your body sufficiently.

This is where Kinesiology can be beneficial.

Not only will balancing hydration correct a large number of imbalances, it also balances over 90% of the major muscles in the body. Hydration balances allow us to gain access to the physical imbalance, and the emotional stress which the body is holding in these dehydrated areas. Correcting these imbalances will restore the body to optimum hydration levels, and can also alleviate physical symptoms and emotional stress.

The level of hydration during a correction will determine the depth of access the body is willing and able to give to any imbalances. Proper hydration is also important for processing any toxins that may be released during a balance.

Support a healthier Gallbladder & support healthier digestion following gallbladder removal

The gallbladder is one of the unsung heroes of the digestive system and is an organ that is often overlooked when it comes to digestive health. Our modern Western diet greatly impacts gallbladder health, leading to problems such as gallstones, an issue that affects up to 30% of Australians over 50. Here we look at the role of the gallbladder in health and disease and learn some of the diet and lifestyle changes that can help to support a healthy gallbladder and overall digestive health.

What is the Gallbladder?

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ that lies attached to the underside of the liver. The gallbladder’s primary function is to store and concentrate bile, a fluid produced by the liver, and to release bile into the small intestine during digestion. Because of their shared role in the production and secretion of bile, the function and health of the gallbladder is closely linked to that of the liver, and many of the common health issues of the gallbladder are related to (or worsened by) poor liver function and particularly altered bile secretion.

What is Bile and How is it Made?

Bile is one of our “digestive juices”, a fluid substance that is secreted by the body to facilitate digestion and absorption of vital nutrients. Bile is the primary digestive juice used for digesting and absorbing fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K. It is typically a dark green to yellow colour and has a thick, sticky texture. It is made up of a mixture of water and various dissolved solids, including bile salts, cholesterol, enzymes, and even waste products ready to be excreted, such as bilirubin (a by-product of red blood cell metabolism). Bile salts are one of the key components of bile. They are produced by the liver from cholesterol via a process known as oxidation.

The human body produces around 1 litre of bile per day. Around 90% of bile is transferred to the gallbladder for storage and concentration, while the remaining 10% is deposited directly into the small intestine from the liver. Just before we start a meal, our bodies enter the cephalic phase of digestion, which is where our bodies become primed for digestion – the onset of salivating is an indicator that your body has entered this phase. It is during this phase that neural pathways signal to the pancreas to produce a hormone called cholecystokinin. This hormone stimulates the gallbladder to start contracting, releasing bile into the small intestine. Bile salts are very efficiently reabsorbed by our intestinal cells and are then transported back to the liver for reuse. About 95% of bile salts are reabsorbed, with the remainder being excreted through the bowels. This recycling of bile salts occurs 6 to 8 times a day, every day, and is known as enterohepatic recycling.

Bile, and particularly the bile salts, are vital for the absorption of fat and fat-soluble vitamins. They emulsify fats so that they can be absorbed, acting like a kind of detergent to break larger fat molecules into smaller droplets. These droplets can then be broken down by enzymes in the intestine, and ultimately absorbed through the gut wall. We know that fats are vital to good health, being used for everything from cell walls to hormones, so it is no wonder that having liver and gallbladder issues can so greatly impact how we feel.

In addition to helping with fat digestion and absorption, bile has other important functions for the body, including:

  • Elimination of metabolic waste products and toxins, including bilirubin, heavy metals (lead, mercury and arsenic), drugs and medications, hormones, and chemicals
  • Helps to neutralise excess stomach acid in the small intestine, preventing symptoms like heartburn and damage to the intestinal wall
  • Helps to kill certain harmful bacteria in the gut, while promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria

Bile and the Gut Microbiota

You may be surprised to learn that bile and the gut microbiota are closely linked, and have a relationship that influences digestion, liver function, and even our immune system. Bile acids act like a modulator of gut bacteria, helping to keep the balance of good bacteria over bad. Special enzymes in certain good gut bacteria can metabolise bile acids. Healthy bile flow promotes higher levels of these bile-metabolising bacteria because they use bile acids as a food source with bile acids also inhibiting the growth of other, harmful types of bacteria. The emulsifying, detergent-like activity of bile acids damages the cell walls of certain bacteria species, keeping population sizes of these harmful bacteria in check.

Health Conditions of the Gallbladder

Gallbladder conditions are increasingly common and can often be related to our modern Western diet and lifestyle.


Gallstones (AKA cholelithiasis), are a very common health issue, affecting up to 30% of Australians over the age of 50. The “stones” in gallstones are formed when bile sits stagnant in the gallbladder, allowing for crystallisation of bile salts. People with high cholesterol are particularly susceptible to gallstones. This is because 90% of gallstones are made of cholesterol. If the liver excretes too much cholesterol into bile it becomes supersaturated, making it much more likely for crystals to form. These crystals bind together to form larger stones which can become lodged in the gallbladder.

Obesity, even when otherwise metabolically healthy, increases the risk of gallstones. Other risk factors for developing gallstones include:

  • Being aged over 40
  • Being female
  • Being overweight, or experiencing a rapid shift in weight (either gaining or losing)
  • Having insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or metabolic syndrome – insulin increases the production of cholesterol in the liver
  • Eating a diet high in calories and high in carbohydrates
  • Eating a low fibre diet
  • Having liver disease

Gallstones are asymptomatic in the majority of cases, but some people will experience symptoms such as intermittent bloating, pressure, or pain in the upper right abdominal area, particularly after eating fatty foods. This intermittent pain can indicate that a stone may be lodged in the neck of the gallbladder.

Cholecystitis – gallbladder inflammation

If the ducts of the gallbladder become blocked due to gallstones, inflammation (known as cholecystitis) can occur. This inflammation can be acute or chronic, and typically includes symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and fever. When symptoms are sudden and severe, it is considered acute cholecystitis. This almost always indicates that the person has gallstones. Chronic cholecystitis, on the other hand, lasts for much longer and is less severe, but may have periods of acute inflammation and pain (known as biliary colic).

Biliary Insufficiency and Poor Liver Health

Whilst not directly related to the gallbladder, insufficient bile production by the liver can produce similar health issues. Signs that you may not be producing enough bile include:

  • Pale stools
  • Flatulence and diarrhoea
  • Floating, foul smelling stools
  • Heartburn (due to lack of alkalising effect of bile salts on stomach acid)
  • Symptoms are worse after fatty meals

Bile is an important means of eliminating harmful toxins from the body, so insufficient production can lead to issues with many other health conditions, including menstrual condition like PMS and endometriosis that can be affected by hormone levels.


If gallstones or inflammation are expected, you may be referred for an ultrasound, as well as liver function tests. Naturopaths often refer you for additional testing, including cholesterol, insulin, and a hormone profile, too. These additional tests can help to uncover what is happening with your health and can unlock information about underlying drivers of your condition, so that an effective treatment strategy can be made for you.

Supporting a Healthy Gallbladder

Treatment of gallbladder issues is always a long-term strategy – there are no quick fixes when it comes to gallbladder health! Likewise, prevention of gallbladder conditions also requires long term healthy lifestyle strategies. Naturopathically, treatment strategies for gallbladder conditions almost always include support for the liver, and it’s easy to see why – the two organs are so closely linked both physically and functionally, so when one isn’t working well, the other also suffers.

Medical treatment of gallbladder issues is often focused on removal of the gallbladder once pain becomes unmanageable. The treatment strategies in this section are instead focused on improving your liver and gallbladder function before reaching this point in your condition. But if you have already had your gallbladder removed, read on – there is a section with tips for optimising health post-gallbladder removal below.

Diet and Lifestyle Strategies

Eat Plenty of Fibre-Rich Foods

Fibre-rich foods are so vital for good health for so many reasons, including for gallbladder health. Insoluble fibre, found in foods such as oats and wheat bran, have been found to reduce the level of cholesterol found in bile, which in turn helps to reduce the formation of cholesterol crystals and stones.

Reduce Saturated and Trans-Fat Intake

Saturated and trans fats have been shown to increase the risk of developing gallstones, so saturated fats should be reduced and trans fats eliminated altogether from the diet.

  • Choose lean cuts of meat to reduce your intake of saturated fat
  • Eliminate foods that contain trans fatty acids, such as margarine, deep fried foods, commercially baked products like cakes and pastries, and frozen potato products such as chips and potato “gems”

Reduce Intake of Refined Sugar

High intake of refined sugars and carbohydrates increases insulin levels, which prompts the liver to produce extra cholesterol. Excess refined sugar intake has been shown to significantly increase the risk of developing symptomatic gallstones, so should be eliminated from the diet.

When eliminating refined sugar from the diet, be aware that sugar goes by many names! Here are just some of the names you might find on the ingredients list of packaged foods and drinks: sugar, table sugar, white sugar, granulated sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, syrup, molasses, agave syrup, honey, barley malt, malt syrup. And there are so many more! Always read food labels and choose options that don’t have added sugars and sweeteners.

Don’t Skip Meals

Eat regular, healthy meals and avoid skipping main meals. Fasting can increase the risk of gallstones, as bile sits stagnant in the gallbladder for too long. Aim for 3 main meals and one or two small snacks each day.

Eat Mindfully

As we discussed above, bile release is triggered when we enter the cephalic phase of digestion. You can help to make sure you are in this digestive phase by:

  • Sitting at the table to eat (rather than eating on the couch or while driving)
  • Using a knife and fork and taking your time to eat and experience your meal
  • Avoiding distractions during mealtimes, particularly TV and phones

Maintain a Healthy Weight (or Lose Weight Slowly!)

Gaining weight and being obese are associated with an increased risk of gallstones because of higher levels of cholesterol. Similarly, losing weight very quickly increases circulating cholesterol levels because of the cholesterol being released from fat stores. At the same time, bile may sit stagnant in the gallbladder due to reduce food intake, which allows for crystals and eventually stones, to form. If you wish to lose weight, be sure to seek naturopathic guidance before embarking on a weight-loss plan, as they can help you to develop a gallbladder-friendly plan that will help you to lose weight slowly and steadily – which will also help you to keep the weight off long-term.

Gallbladder Removal –Life After Cholecystectomy

Gallbladder removal is a common treatment for gallstones, but it fundamentally changes your body’s digestive functioning and requires careful dietary management for the long term. Because the gallbladder acts as the storage chamber for bile, its removal means there is no longer a place to store bile as the liver is producing it, so a lesser amount is available at mealtimes. This means less bile overall is available for fat digestion, and a greater reliance on the bile that is injected directly into the intestine from the liver itself. This means your body will not be able to digest and absorb fats the same way it used to. Whilst this doesn’t mean you can no longer eat fats at all, it does mean making some changes to what you eat and how. Post-gallbladder removal, it is also important to support the liver, as the lack of gallbladder places additional burden on the liver to maintain health. Below are some tips for maintaining good health after cholecystectomy.

Be mindful of fat consumption

  • Avoid high-fat meals, as your body will no longer be able to supply sufficient bile for proper digestion of high amounts of fat – that means no keto diet! A lower fat diet is a much better choice for optimal digestion. Aim for no more than 30% of your calories to come from fats. High fat foods will cause abdominal discomfort and digestive issues.
  • When you do eat fats, focus on heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from sources such as extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, nuts and seeds, oily fish, and avocados. We still need good quality sources of fatty foods in our diet for healthy cells, brain health, and for fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Eat fats in small amounts throughout the day, instead of eating them all at once. This reduces how much bile is needed for proper digestion.
  • Avoid saturated fatty acids, trans fats, and hydrogenated oils such as soybean and canola oil, which can be detrimental to liver health.

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Aim for 5 or more serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruits per day, choosing a variety of colours each day to maximise your nutrient intake.
  • Fruits and vegetables provide an abundance of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants which are crucial for optimal liver health.
  • These foods also provide plenty of fibre to feed healthy gut microbiota. As discussed above, bile is important in maintaining a healthy microbiome, so providing additional support for healthy gut bacteria is important once your gallbladder has been removed.

Utilise bitters before meals

  • Bitter foods and drinks encourage the liver to produce and secrete bile into the small intestine, ready to digest our food. Having bitters around 10-15 minutes before sitting down to eat can help ensure our digestive system is primed and ready for optimal digestion and absorption.

Try a small salad of dandelion greens or rocket as an appetiser or mix the juice of a lemon in 250ml of lukewarm water. Alternatively, herbal bitter remedies can be prescribed for a more potent effect.

Herbs and Supplements for Gallbladder Health

Herbs – Cholagogues

Cholagogues can be used to support healthy gallbladder function and prevent health issues, as well as to treat gallbladder conditions. However, they can be contraindicated, especially if there is a history of bile duct obstruction – always seek naturopathic guidance for a herbal prescription. Cholagogues include herbs such as globe artichoke and agrimony.

Herbs – Bitters

Bitters are a wonderful class of herbs that can be used to help with so many health issues. As the name suggests, these herbs contain lots of bitter principles and have a very strong bitter taste. It is the bitter taste of the herbs that gives them their therapeutic effect. Our bodies have bitter taste receptors not only on the tongue, but throughout the digestive system, increasing saliva, enzyme, and bile production. Bitter herbs activate these receptors and improve digestive function, and even shift the body into the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce issues associated with stress and anxiety. Gentian, wormwood, and globe artichoke are all well-known bitter herbs.

Herbs- Choleretics

Choleretics are herbs that stimulate the production of bile in the liver and promote its secretion into the gallbladder. They’re very commonly used for any conditions associated with the liver or gallbladder. Some commonly known choleretic herbs include milk thistle, calendula, and globe artichoke.


Lipase is a type of enzyme that helps to break down fats, making them easier to absorb. Supplementing with additional lipase helps to ease the burden of reduced bile on the gastrointestinal tract after gallbladder removal, or when your gallbladder or liver health is impacting bile production and secretion.

Probiotics & Prebiotics

As discussed above, bile is important for a healthy microbiome. When insufficient bile is being produced, either due to gallbladder issues or removal, a good quality probiotic supplement can help support healthy microbial populations in the gut however prebiotics are more appropriate for many people as they are a food source for your own species.  However, it is important to note that many over the counter probiotics available are poor quality and may not provide you with beneficial amounts of probiotics so it is best to seek naturopathic guidance on choosing a probiotic that will be of benefit to you.


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